SEVEN Gwent police stations will re-open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, Gwent’s police and crime commissioner Ian Johnston confirmed yesterday, with two more opening for a few days a week.
Caerphilly, Ystrad Mynach, Risca, Pontypool, Maindee in Newport, Chepstow and Monmouth police stations will see front counter services brought back, while Brynmawr and Abertillery will reopen for two to three days per week each, sharing resources.
Caerphilly’s front counter will be set up in the town’s library while across Gwent; Raglan, Cwm, Llanhilleth, Cwmfelinfach and Newbridge police stations are being sold.
Options to provide Duffryn with some kind of front counter service are still being looked at, said Mr Johnston while his deputy Paul Harris said similar plans were “well advanced” for Alway and Bettws.
The decision by the commissioner follows extensive public consultation, spurred on by “the public’s disquiet about police stations closing” in 2012.
In April 2012 the then chief constable of Gwent police, Carmel Napier said she would press ahead with the force’s programme to close front counters in 17 stations despite a backlash from politicians.
The Argus reported in November last year that Mr Johnston was considering fully re-opening some of those stations, after he admitted police had “got it badly wrong” over the closure of Caerphilly police station’s front desk.
Speaking at yesterday’s police and crime panel meeting, which met at Monmouthshire council’s headquarters in Usk, Mr Johnston said: “The constant message from the public was, that’s what they want. The Chief [Constable Jeff Farrar] and I are at one on this, we are going to look at how we get it done in financial terms but it needs to be done.
“This will all be reviewed in 12 months,” he added.
UNISON branch secretary for Gwent Police, Linda Sweet said it was “really good news” and said it has become evident that the decision to close the stations was a bad one.
“A lot of my members, the station enquiry officers, were the first face that the public saw,” she said. “They were such an important cog in the wheel that has been lost. The job they still do in Newport and some other stations and their knowledge is invaluable.”
A document outlining the changes, written as a result of recent public consultation, is due to be published online on the commissioner’s website in the next few days.